URGENT Action Alert — Contact Governor Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to ask for Climate Ground Zero Director Mike Roselle’s immediate release from jail and that the sample of dust collected from a mountain top blasting site be analyzed by WV DEP — URGENT Action Alert

Recap of Climate Ground Zero action that put Mike Roselle in jail these last four days since Thanksgiving.

The vigil began on Monday  November 24 on the steps of West Virginia’s State Capitol, Charleston.  Climate Ground Zero activists laid a banner that read “Mountain Blasting Kills” on the steps to the Liberty Bell replica and placed two containers of  dust, coal, shale, and toxic residue spoils left behind on the stumps of mountains blasted by the coal companies.

The point was that the spoils they carried from mountain top removal rampages were callously and illegally left behind,  the residues of blasting powder to infiltrate the  soil, water,  food, property, businesses, schools — the very air breathed every moment of every day — in Appalachia.  Specifically, the three brought the dust collected to hand over to the lawmakers  and to the WV Department of Environmental Protection for analysis.  They stood vigil quietly for four days in the cold and snow to hand over the toxic samples they had gathered for  the WV DEP for analysis and proof to state lawmakers as evidence that the Coal companies are violating federal and state laws.

On Thursday November 28, instead of celebrating Thanksgiving at home in Rock Creek, West Virginia, Mike Roselle (ironically choosing to fast for the duration of the action), Guin McGuinnes, and Mike Cherin held fast as they continued to wait patiently to hand deliver the dust to state officials.  Thursday afternoon, the activists moved their vigil to the publicly owned and maintained Governor’s mansion, hoping to present the samples to him at home, or at least to leave the substance on his doorstep.  Upon pressing the door bell, Roselle engaged in a brief description by intercom about why they were there with a voice from inside the mansion who said someone would be with him shortly.

Indeed, a capitol security official and then police officers were with them shortly, told Roselle to pick up the jar on the doorstep and take it away.  After coming all this way with the sample for the state lawmakers, scientists, and now the governor, Roselle refused to pick up the jar, and said he was not going to take the dust back to Rock Creek, whereupon he was arrested.

The charges are disorderly conduct (he never raised his voice and behaved in a civil and soft-spoken manner) and trespass (there is no gate or guard at the entrance to the governor’s mansion and he did not refuse to leave).  Bail was set at $20,000 ($10,000 for each exaggerated charge).  In addition, counsel has been refused access to his client — an egregious violation of Roselle’s civil rights.

Now, everyone who lives in Appalachia knows that more than six million tons of ammonium nitrate diesel fuel explosives are detonated six days each week to extract an infinitely modest amount of coal as mountain tops are blasted away.  When the dust settles, it contains everything from  mercury, lead, arsenic, various heavy metals, polyaromatichydrocarbons, pulverized silica , partially combusted coal and shale, and even radiation.  They can only hope that justice will be done and the coal companies will be forced to stop mountain top blasting and threatening the health of each and every resident in the communities affected by toxic coal dust raining down on them from the blasts.

It is time for mountaintop removal to end.  The onus is upon the state government to mandate that the coal companies cease and desist blasting mountains, poisoning people, air, water, soil, wildlife and destroying the quality of life for every person in Appalachia.

Please contact WV governor and tell him that Mike Roselle should be released immediately, that he speaks for the people, that he must direct WVDEP to analyze the sample,  and that the heavily sponsored ACHE Act (HR526, the  Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act) can end mountaintop removal and will save countless lives when passed.

Contact Governor Earl Ray Tomblin

Governor’s Mansion:
(304) 558-3588


Contact Address:
Office of the Governor
State Capitol
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305

Office Telephone:
(304) 558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731

Twitter:  @GovTomblin

Sample letter:

Dear Governor Earl Ray Tomblin,

I  am writing on behalf of Mike Roselle and Climate Ground Zero, who is being held in jail on trumped up charges of trespass and disorderly conduct for simply trying to deliver a sample of the toxic dust left behind from mountain top removal blasting by coal companies.   Bail was assigned at $20,000, a ludicrous $10,000 for each erroneous charge.  I ask that you immediately direct that he be released from jail.  Everyone has seen the video footage of his arrest and he was quite orderly, polite, soft-spoken, civil and forthright in his request.  There is no gate or guard post at the governor’s mansion and Mr. Roselle was not trespassing.

In addition, I request that you direct the DEP to test the dust samples delivered by Mr. Roselle for analysis.  Furthermore, they should be directed send a sample to an independent testing facility to analyze the dust.  Climate Ground Zero states that upwards of 20 published, peer-reviewed, scientific, professional papers have all concluded that the blasting carried out by the coal companies is a health hazard for lung and other diseases, cancer, birth defects, and shortened life expectancy.

Finally, I urge you to get behind the heavily sponsored ACHE Act (HR526, the  Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act) which can end mountaintop removal and will save countless lives when passed.

Thank you,

[Your name]

You are invited to cut and paste this letter into the “your comments” section at the bottom of the page,  or write one of your own in your own words, and/or call.  It is important to contact the governor to demand Climate Ground Zero director Mike Roselle’s immediate release.  Thank you for helping the people of the Appalachians.

Other ways to help:

Call the West Virginia Regional State Jail,  1001 Centre Way, Charleston, WV 25309-1001


Call or contact the WV EPA:

PHONE (304) 926-0499

FAX (304) 926-0458


Dragline Wins a RFK

Rock Creek, WV — The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights announced the winners of its 43rd Annual Journalism Awards today. Independent photojournalist Laura Antrim Caskey, creator of Dragline, a photographic exposé of mountaintop removal coal mining and the grassroots campaign to end, it has been awarded the prize in Domestic Photography.

This year’s winning journalists, in eight professional and three student categories, covered a broad array of substantial topics, including the trials of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the lives of Afghan women, the impact of war on soldiers, the coal industry in West Virginia, and rape at American universities…The awards were established by journalists who covered Robert Kennedy’s historic presidential campaign in 1968. They recognize journalists whose work has focused on human rights, social justice, and the power of individuals to make a difference – issues that defined the life and work of Robert F. Kennedy. Award recipients identify cases of injustice, and examine its causes, conditions, and remedies, ” reads the press release in part.

Caskey has been reporting on the human and environmental costs of mountaintop removal coal mining since May 2005. Currently she is based in Rock Creek, WV in the Coal River Valley, since moving from Brooklyn, NY in 2008.

Give em hell!

Judy Bonds was a mentor, friend, neighbor, and fellow soldier. I’ve worked with community activist all over the world, and I know I’ll never meet another person like her. Her passing away leaves a tremendous hole in my universe. As a mentor, it was she who let me know without any doubt that as a long time forest campaigner, I could no longer ignore mountain top removal, which had been responsible for the destruction of over a million acres of Appalachian native forests, and unlike in the case of logging, the trees, or indeed much of anything, would never grow back, and that over a thousand miles of streams were buried beneath the toxic spoils, and that the sludge dams presented a threat to the drinking water of a third of the US population. Wheee. And this was just during our introduction!

We were at Blanton Forest in Eastern Kentucky for the National Forest Protection Alliance annual convention, and she was there to recruit. “You’ll never understand this issue Mike”, Judy said, “unless you see it for yourself”. Sensing she was right, it wasn’t long before Lloyd Clayton and I took the drive from Birmingham, Alabama to visit Judy and find out what was going on. There we met Ed and Debbie Wiley, Bo Webb and Vernon Haltom for the first time. Soon I would meet Maria Gunnoe, Larry Gibson and a host of others who had committed their lives to saving the mountains and the communities where their ancestors were born, and where they were buried. These Appalachians were hands down the scrappiest group of treehuggers I’d ever seen. This was to be the beginning of a long journey, even though I did not know it at the time, taking me to Rock Creek, where Judy, Ed, Debbie and Bo would be my neighbors. Judy’s house was a mere stone’s throw away. She would come by regularly with covered dishes, an Appalachian tradition, (always bring the dish back with something in it!) or some cuttings of native plants or vegetables from her garden. “You need to get this yard cleaned up” she’d say, “We got to be good neighbors.”

I last visited Judy just before Christmas. We had baked her some brownies, and brought them over in a bright red cookie tin. She said the first order of business was her medical condition, which she described in detail, saying finally that this was probably her last Christmas. Then she insisted we sample from the many sweets arrayed on her dining room table. Her daughter Lisa was there and they reminisced about the time a Massey wife had assaulted her in the parking lot of a Wendy’s in Beckeley. A ruckus ensued, and a bystander suggested Lisa go help her mother. Lisa replied that it didn’t look like her Momma needed any help. And she didn’t! There were deep belly laughs all around. There was nobody tougher than Judy. The rest of the visit was filled with holler gossip, a local pastime, and which I have found to be of no little use. Here, the backyard fence is still the internet. Even with the internet, news still travels up and down the river by word of mouth faster than it does by the transportation of binary electrons, and usually with much more nuance and accuracy.

Ed Wiley was in our living room when Debbie called and gave us the news that Judy had been taken to the hospital. Within a few hours Lisa called and lets us know that Judy passed away at 6:30. It became very quiet but the silence was eventually broken when Ed said that Judy would not want to see us moping around. Indeed, her last words to me were to never give up the fight, and as usual, she was looking me straight in the eyes. “Promise” I said. We opened a can of beer. Hell yes!

Mentor, friend, ally, neighbor; these are the relationships that make life worth living. Camaraderie, above all things, can make the few strong against the many, and in the fight for nature, it can achieve the impossible. It is what makes life worth living. While there is a hole in the sky now, it is not filled with emptiness. Judy’s spirit is still here, and she continues to inspire us to keep going. I can still see her, standing on the porch with her shotgun and her dogs, a symbol of defiance against all odds, even a warrior goddess from some Celtic opera. I can hear her saying, “Don’t worry Mike, I got yer back!”

Mike Roselle
Campaign Director